Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Tuesday, August 8, 2006
Volume 2, Issue 32

Welcome to The Transit Coalition weekly newsletter! Our organization participates in meetings with key decision makers and community leaders and our goal is to keep you informed on the latest developments in the transportation scene across Southern California.

After a brief lull of gas prices at the pump, oil futures are once again climbing to near record levels. With a major oil pipeline in Alaska shutting down indefinitely, California and the Pacific Northwest will be especially hit hard. According to a recent survey, rising energy prices are now significantly affecting how businesses operate. Employers nevertheless find it advantageous to continue reimbursing employees for their gas as part of their efforts to keep worthwhile talent from finding other jobs closer to home while boosting employee morale. This, however, is not stopping companies from encouraging carpooling and telecommuting. Companies are not the only ones concerned: Asphalt, being derived from crude oil products, is becoming increasingly expensive, and budgets for road projects are spiraling out of control as a result.

A recent report revealed that Americans are increasingly annoyed at the driving experience. Road rage and increased traffic are among the top sources of driver dissatisfaction. Those in Los Angeles should brace themselves for more annoyances: If you block traffic during rush hour, you will pay as much as $140 for the "privilege." If you operate a "bandit" taxi, the City of Los Angeles will fine you $1,000 and impound your vehicle. If you drive an RV in LA, you will not be able to park on certain designated streets from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. Truckers may soon have it doubly hard, as an Inland Empire official redoubles his efforts to push for a truck ban during daylight hours across Southern California.

Last week, Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle, county supervisors and the Orange County Transportation Authority reached a tentative deal to build one of the largest transit centers in Southern California. The City of Anaheim and OCTA expect to buy 13.5 acres of land surrounding the Anaheim Metrolink/ Amtrak station at $32.5 million. The transit center will house the largest bus terminal in the county and provide more track space for a future high-speed rail system. A parking garage and a mixed-use residential and retail complex are also envisioned.

As a result of higher energy costs, public transit agencies in California are raising their fares. One-way fares on Sacramento Regional Transit buses and trains will go up to $2, while day passes will be sold at $5. Come next month, Omnitrans passengers will pay $1.25 for one-way fares and $3 for day passes. Los Angeles Times readers took exception to LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's proposal to allow the public to ride transit for a whole week at no cost.

But it isn't all bad: Santa Clarita Transit is installing a new GPS system that will allow bus riders to know when their bus should arrive. Back home, Metro embarked on a major expansion of its popular Freeway Service Patrol. Los Angeles City Beat writers Rebecca Epstein and Allison Milionis shared their experiences as they explored public art at Metro facilities.

The Southern California Association of Governments continues their work on studying a proposed MagLev service from West L.A. to Ontario Airport. One entity that is bound to benefit from such a service is Westfield Shoppingtown West Covina, the site of a proposed MagLev station. Shopping center officials propose to build an entirely new mall at the site. West Covina Mayor Steve Herfert was among 20 dignitaries who recently traveled to Shanghai, China, to ride the existing MagLev service there. Herfert expressed disillusionment at the numerous studies on the subject with little action to show for it, but joined the delegation on insistence of Westfield officials. (Kinda makes you wonder why they don't do delegation trips to study proven steel-on-steel rail systems such as the TGVs in France or the Shinkansen in Japan.) Meanwhile, China continues to expand MagLev, with a new extension to Hangzhou to be completed in 2010 and a test track for a locally-developed MagLev train that uses permanent (and locally manufactured) magnets for levitation.

Los Angeles Downtown News published a Dennis Lytton op-ed on the potential of Union Station to be more than just a place to transfer trains. Many amenities that are often taken for granted at other major train stations across the nation and around the world, such as restaurants, shopping and services, are lacking at Union Station. According to Lytton, current Station owner ProLogis, the entities using the train station such as Metro, Metrolink and Amtrak, and other private investors should bring such services to the Station, while significantly upgrading electronic signage in the process.

Here is a list of other recent developments:

August 2: The San Bernardino Associated Governments Board approved two separate contracts to synchronize signals along some of the Inland Empire's busiest thoroughfares. The work will be split into two parts: 299 signals will be reconfigured on major east-west arterials paralleling the 10 and 60 Freeways. 294 more will be reconfigured at other east-west, as well as several north-south, arterials across the Inland Empire. It will take between 6 and 12 months to complete the project.

August 7: The City of Lancaster held the first of four scheduled open houses to discuss the city's General Plan, a "blueprint" for growth over the next 25 years. Issues such as traffic, commuting, air and water pollution, the need for new housing, urban design, health and safety and protecting the environment are covered at these meetings. The above article lists additional dates and opportunities for residents to have their say on this important matter.

Caltrans started a two-week closure of State Highway Route 330 between Highland and Running Springs as part of a 53-day project to stabilize slopes on the mountain highway. The slopes have been damaged by recent floods and the road must be repaired so that the highway does not wash away in a future storm.

Upcoming Events: Metro San Gabriel Valley Governance Council: Tuesday, August 8, 5 p.m., 3369 Santa Anita Ave. (near El Monte bus station), El Monte. ( Public hearing on December bus line modifications follows at 6 p.m.)

SCAG MagLev Task Force: Thursday, August 10, 11:00 a.m. SCAG Offices, 818 W. Seventh St., 12th floor, Los Angeles. CANCELLED.

Metro Gateway Cities Governance Council: Thursday, August 10, 2 p.m., Gas Company ERC, 9240 Firestone Bl., Downey. ( Public hearing on December bus line modifications starts at 6 p.m.)

Metro South Bay Governance Council and Public Hearing: Friday, August 11, 9.30 a.m., Carson Community Center, 801 E. Carson St., Carson.

SCRRA (Metrolink) Special Board Meeting: Friday, August 11, 10 a.m. Board Conference Room, 700 S. Flower St., 25th floor, Los Angeles. (Regular Board meeting on Friday, August 25 CANCELLED.)

Southern California Transit Advocates: Saturday, August 12, 1 p.m., Angelus Plaza, Rm. 422, 255 S. Hill St., Los Angeles.

Orange County Transportation Authority Board Public Hearing: Monday, August 14, 9 a.m., Board Hearing Room, 600 S. Main St., Orange. The hearing will focus on upcoming bus line modifications in Orange County, including new seasonal weekend services and an Inland Empire-South OC Coast express bus.

SCAG Goods Movement Task Force: Wednesday, August 16, 9 a.m., SCAG Offices, 818 W. Seventh St., 12th floor, Los Angeles. CANCELLED: Next meeting is on Wednesday, September 20.

Metro San Fernando Valley Governance Council: Wednesday, August 16, 6:30 p.m., Marvin Braude Constituent Center, 6262 Van Nuys Bl., Van Nuys.

Metro Committee Meetings: Wednesday, August 16 and Thursday, August 17, Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

Planning and Programming Committee, Wednesday, August 16, 1 p.m.

Finance and Budget Committee, Wednesday, August 16, 2:30 p.m.

Executive Management & Audit Committee, Thursday, August 17, 9 a.m.

Construction Committee, Thursday, August 17, 10:30 a.m.

Operations Committee, Thursday, August 17, 12 noon.

Consider attending our monthly Transit Coalition Dinner Meeting on Tuesday, August 22 - 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Philippe The Original, 1001 N. Alameda St. Los Angeles CA 90012. ( Map.) We hope to see you there!

Metro Board Meeting: Thursday, August 24, 9:30 a.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

Orange County Transportation Authority Board Meeting: Monday, August 28, 9 a.m., Board Hearing Room, 600 Main St., Orange.

Missed last week's newsletter? Read it here!

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Contact Us:
We welcome your thoughts and comments on our new electronic newsletter. Please write us:
Bart Reed, Executive Director
Numan Parada, Communications Director

About The Transit Coalition:
The Transit Coalition is a 501[c](3) non-profit whose goal is to increase Transit Options and Mobility in Southern California by mobilizing citizens to press for sensible public policy to grow our bus and rail network.

As a grass roots group, we depend upon your contributions to allow us to pursue our important work. Add yourself to our mailing list and please donate to help us grow.

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bart.reed@thetransitcoalition.us  The Transit Coalition